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Andy Murray conquers Bedene to close in on a record fifth title at Queen's

By Tom Allnutt

Andy Murray won one Battle of Britain to set up another at Queen's as he beat British number two Aljaz Bedene and booked a quarter-final clash with Kyle Edmund.

Murray had never faced a compatriot on home soil before at tour level but he will now have played two in as many days at the Aegon Championships after he overcame Slovenian-born Bedene 6-3 6-4.

Edmund is regarded as a potential successor to Murray's reign at the top of the British game and the 21-year-old now has the chance to showcase his talent in a first competitive meeting against the world number two.

It will also be the first time two British players have met in the last eight at Queen's since the start of the Open era and the only time anywhere since Tim Henman beat Great Rusedski at Adelaide in 2002.

For now, however, it is Bedene at 58th in the world who sits closest to Murray in the rankings, and the pair have forged connections off the court too, both taking advice from Davis Cup captain Leon Smith and hitting together during Britain's successful run in the competition last year.

Smith sat diplomatically in the media seats on Centre Court, eager not to show an allegiance to either side, but he will also have been impressed by a determined performance from Bedene, who has not yet given up hope of representing his adopted country.

For Murray, this was another stiff examination passed as he maintains his perfect start to a second stint under coach Ivan Lendl and continues his preparations on grass ahead of Wimbledon in 11 days time.

"It was not bad," Murray said. "It was a different type of opponent to my first round, Nicolas Mahut comes to the net a lot whereas Aljaz plays most of the time from the back. There were a few more rallies and it's still just about getting used to conditions but I did well."

On Edmund, Murray added: "Kyle is improving all the time. It's been a steady progression with him, not one massive leap but every year he's getting a little bit better.

"He's very professional, he works hard, has a good team around him. He's going in the right direction."

The two-time grand slam champion began and ended the first set with an ace, up and down in between but showing glimpses of the touch and craft that still makes grass his most dependable surface.

A sumptuous backhand lob was the pick of several delicate winners early on but it was a poorly executed drop-shot from Bedene that proved crucial, allowing Murray to break in the eighth game and seal the opening set.

Bedene's whipped forehand and swerving serve, which produced 11 aces in all, did cause problems and when Murray dumped two backhands into the net to hand back a break at 2-2, there was temporary hope of a revival.

It proved short-lived, however, Murray breaking again at 3-3 and serving out with ease to move one step closer to a record fifth title in this tournament.

Belfast Telegraph

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